Brake drums and discs explained

Brakes are one of the most important components of your car and are vital for safety. There are two different types of brakes and they do vary in terms of how they work, take a look at the difference between brake drums and brake discs.

A drum brake is a small round drum that has a set of “shoes” inside of it. The drum rotates with the wheel and when the brakes are applied, these shoes are pushed in to the sides of the drum, slowing down the wheel.

In comparison, a brake disc is a disc shaped metal rotor that spins within a wheel. When the brake pedal is applied, a caliper squeezes the brake pads against the disc which slows the car down as more pressure is applied to the pedal.

Are drums or discs better?

In terms of their effectiveness, a disc brake will be less susceptible to brake fade than a brake drum, particularly in areas where drivers frequently drive down steep hills. Drum brakes are also more likely to collect water during rain or when driving through puddles, meaning they may not perform as well in wet conditions.

Disc brakes are the more expensive option both for initial purchase and for maintenance compared to drum brakes. Drum brakes are an affordable option, requiring little time and effort when they need to be replaced.

Whilst discs are more expensive, they are more widely available which can offer more options to drivers when looking for replacement parts. Disc brake systems can also be easily adjusted and can be checked without having to remove the entire wheel from the vehicle.

Often there is no need to have discs on all four wheels. It is common in many models for cars to have disc brakes in the front two wheels, with drum brakes in the rear two. This is an economical solution, as much of the braking effort comes from the front and so the discs will last longer than drums.

When choosing whether to opt for disc brakes or drum brakes, drivers should take in to consideration their budget and the conditions in which they drive, as this will have an impact on the option that is best suited to their needs.

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